Michael D Higgins invites Chinese president back to Ireland

Xi Jinping visited Ireland in 2012, including Cliffs of Moher and Croke Park

President Michael D Higgins meets with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Video: Reuters


President Michael D Higgins has invited his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to make a return visit to Ireland during meetings at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

Mr Higgins recalled Mr Xi’s visit to Ireland in 2012 when he was still vice-president and invited him to visit again at his “convenience”.

While in Ireland Mr Xi visited the Cliffs of Moher, Croke Park and a small farm in Clare.

“We were very honoured by your visit … it was a wonderful visit,” he said at a long table accompanied by Minister for Finance Michael Noonan and Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan.

“May I immediately say it would be my dearest wish, and that of the Irish government, that you return at your convenience and you will be welcome,” said Mr Higgins.

Mr Xi, who is president of the People’s Republic of China, general secretary of the ruling Communist Party and head of the army, recalled with fondness his trip to Ireland.

“I am very glad since my visit in 2012 that bilateral relations between our two countries have gone to the next stage, in many areas, including trade and other areas of cooperation,” said Mr Xi.

“Next year marks 35 years since the establishment of bilateral relations between China and Ireland, and I hope this can be the starting point for taking relations and cooperation between the two countries to a new level.”

Mr Higgins met the Chinese president in the Great Hall of the People near Tiananmen Square, the vast concourse at the heart of Beijing.

He was greeted with full military honours and inspected the troops while a large contingent of children waved.